Weather we want to admit it or not, most of us, at one point or another, will compare our marriage to someone else’s whether this is someone we know in real life, a relationship we see from afar, or even a fictional one. Comparison is a trap and a dangerous gauge for the health of our lives and relationships. It’s often based on partial truths and unattainable reality. Most of us know this, yet we all do it. And thanks to social media, highlights, and sound bytes flooding our daily moments, we step willingly into the comparison trap early and often in our days.
The problem with comparison is that we tend to do it under the influence of extreme emotions or insecurities. A fight with your spouse can simultaneously shout a lie that every other marriage is perfect. Swing to the other end of the pendulum when all cylinders are firing, and in walks pride, telling you that you have it more together than the next person. Seasons of insecurity may be the strongest bait of all. We trade vulnerability and honesty for illusion and comparison.
Deep down, we all know that nobody is perfect, and there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Yet how easily we stray from reality. Comparison is a thief of joy, and if not kept in check, can kill your marriage. We live in a world of comparison—especially with social media. We look at others’ lives through an Instagram filter and think that someone else’s life is picture perfect…the country they live in, their house, their family, even their marriage. It can then be difficult to look at our own lives and marriages and think that we have a “bad” marriage, or that our lives don’t compare.
The thing is, we don’t always see other’s struggles and people outside also dont see your struggles. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side. When you and your spouse get together with friends, it might be easy or even natural, to have some of these thoughts:
“Wow! That couple is so affectionate! I wish my husband would smother me in kisses just like….” Boy, I really wish my wife could make a delicious chicken dish like….” “Her husband always surprises her with special flowers and gifts, I wish my husband was more romantic.”
These thoughts do not build your marriage up!
For Wives : Comparing your husband to other men can seriously undermine your relationship. Certain “harmless” attention to his weaknesses and vulnerabilities can make him feel violated, defensive, or shamed. Men do not often talk about feeling inadequate, but if they’re honest, they’re most insecure about not being respected or valuable enough. That fear is stoked and kept alive when they’re compared to others unfavorably. They can rationalize that they’re good men who try hard, but the truth is that they can never live up to the make-believe world of celebrity or maybe even the guy next door who seems to have it all together.If your husband joked about your body, or compared it to another woman, as a woman you’d probably take it very hard, because so many women feel insecure about their bodies. Be aware of how your joking may make him feel or how a light comparison to an ex or a friend can shatter him. Demoralize is pretty much just a big word for “discourage.” There’s nothing that drives a man more than knowing you believe in him, respect him, and have high expectations for him. If your husband hears that you wish he were more like someone else, his embarrassment will very likely cause him to pull away from you and revert inside himself. He could either feel like he has something to prove, or he may give up altogether. Different men would handle hearing themselves compared to other men differently, but like I said earlier, it would be an extremely low blow that would be hard to get back up from.
For Husbands :A lot of men I know tend to want to compare their wife to another woman for one reason or another. It is highly abnormal to compare your wife with other women. Instead , it is insulting and shows somewhere the mindset of the husband who seems to be suffering from some inferiority complex. The wife is not a commodity for comparison with others. Mostly people compare looks, and other outer appearances (mind you, of his own wife) with other women not realizing that these are temporary features and will change with passage of time. The main qualities which will stand the test of time are : sincerity. love, commitment and respect for each other, which people conveniently ignore. I personally believe that one’s wife is a God sent gift , and by doing such a disrespectful action, the husband concerned is not only insulting and undermining his life partner, but also insulting the God who has considered the husband worthy enough to be bestowed with such precious gift (which not everyone deserves/gets)! Comparison is a toxic addition to every relationship. When you stand before God and pledge to love this person for the rest of your life, you’re choosing her, her habits, her quirks, and her process with God. In saying “yes” to one woman, you say “no” to all others.
Be cautious about the position of your heart when scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. Observation can quickly turn into longing, then envy, then bitterness. Praise God when things are going well for others and recognize that God has every couple in a different season.
This is not to say that we don’t have expectations for our spouses or that we never need to ask them to improve. It’s the same way with all Christians. Even though God sees Christ in us and our sins are forgotten, that doesn’t mean we are free to keep sinning, knowing that it won’t be counted against us.
So when you wish your spouse’s actions were different, do these things:
- Remember your own flaws and that you can’t expect your spouse to have it all together.
- View him/her how Christ views him, with grace, love, and forgiveness. But also with standards.
- Ask yourself if the behavior change is truly necessary, or just something that will discourage your spouse.
- Speak to him/her openly and honestly. Give him/her the benefit of the doubt, but be honest about how their actions make you feel.
- Be specific about what you would like to see change and what your spouse can do differently. This is VERY important. I think many times we can just stop the conversation at how our spouses made us feel and then let them try to read our minds for how we’d specifically like them to change. Give your spouse scenarios and examples. Men and Women in marriage aren’t stupid, but they’re not mind-readers either.
- Ultimately call your spouse to be more like Christ, not just a better person. If you and your spouse truly strive to be more like Christ, issues of selfishness and comparison will eventually fall away as you both attempt to love each other in the redemptive way that Christ loves us.
At the core, marriage exists to display God’s glory. Aside from the church, it is the only institution that God created. It is a sacred union designed for two people to join together–not to compare themselves to other flawed and sinful human beings, but to live together for the glory of God. If this is our goal, then comparison will fall off our lives naturally.
“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.”
Wilbert Frank Chaniwa – Talking Marriage Today